Scorebook Live Washington spoke to a handful of Washington high school football coaches to gauge their thoughts on the Gridiron Classic moving away from the Tacoma Dome, including Camas football coach John Eagle, who said he played in the Tacoma Dome at least six times.
Coaches react to Gridiron Classic news:
(Editor’s note: answers have been edited for space.)
Jon Eagle, Camas football coach
Playoff resume: two state championships (Evergreen, 2004; Camas 2016).
Did the news surprise you?
Jon Eagle: Yeah, a little bit. It’s always made our game special because of that venue.
What was your immediate reaction?
Eagle: It’s become such a symbol for the championship, it gave us all a symbol to shoot for the end of the season. It was a place to point to. I can’t tell you how many guys have shirts that say the amount of miles from your practice field to the Tacoma Dome. Our state does a great job with the championships. Star Track is phenomenal how they do that. Certainly can’t match Hayward Field, but I think the Tacoma Dome having all the games in one place over two days was really special. OK, that’s gone now, so now they’re trying to scramble because really you have a lot of good venues and I’m not counting Husky Stadium or the Seahawks’ place. But after that you have a lot of good places, you don’t have any great places.
You’re saying that from the grandness of the stage, the Tacoma Dome held a special place for a lot of people. So do you see it as an end of an era?
Eagle: Well, I think it’s too early to say that. Let’s wait and see what happens. I get it. The Tacoma Dome had to make some changes. For whatever reason. To make it a better venue, more of a money-maker. I really don’t know.
What has been your experience playing outdoors at some of the playoff sites in past years?
Eagle: We were asked that question. When we hosted a semifinal game down here, Sumner game, we always argued how come a Chiawana gets to host a semifinal game on their home field? And they say well some people think having a semifinal game in the Tacoma Dome is a home game for us. If you would have asked me what would I prefer, to play a semi game in the Tacoma Dome, or have a game in Clark County (Southwest Washington), I’d say we’ll have a game in Clark County every time. So the 2016 season (Camas hosted Sumner in the 4A state semifinals at Vancouver’s McKenzie Stadium) was the first time I’d ever seen a 4A semifinal game at any level hosted in Clark County, and we got lucky because the weather was so great.
Do you anticipate an increased call for a game in SW Washington?
Eagle: I hope so. This is not a great time to be asking for money to make upgrades. McKenzie is the obvious with the field and the seating, but the locker rooms are very sub-par for a large playoff-type situation.
Andy Buhler is a reporter for Scorebook Live Washington. To hear him every week on the Scorebook Live Today podcast, subscribe here. Follow him on Twitter @AndyBuhler and reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.